- Korean historical records indicate that people began brewing clear liquor with a grain base before the fourth century. Since then, the people of Korea have participated in ceremonies to make a ritual offering of alcohol to their ancestors to show appreciation for their bountiful harvests, according to the Korean Tourism Organization website.
- Diluted soju is the most popular type on the market, reports the Korean Tourism Organization. Soju is produced by mixing spirits with water. Different types have the same soju base, however, they have slight differences based on the the amount of water and ingredients added. First appearing in 1965, diluted soju then had an alcohol content of about 30 percent. The alcohol amount has continued to decrease and now the soju with less than 20 percent remains the most popular. Diluted soju types include gongdokji soju made with rice in the Kongdokjo region near Seoul, chabssal soju, which is a sticky rice type and samhae soju, a soju infused with herbs.
- Andong soju is made in the Andong region of South Korea and has been popular since the Goryeo Dynasty (918 to 1392). The traditional distilled liquor has been produced for generations by a noted family from the region. Andong soju was designated Intangible Cultural Asset No. 12 of the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province according to The Korean Tourism Organization. The soju process begins with the steaming of five grains--including barley and rice--and adding a starter culture known as nuruk. The mixture ferments for a week, is distilled for a day and then becomes the finished beverage.
Additional Soju Types
- The jukryeokgo type of soju is made with bamboo sap with water added. The gwanso-gamhongro soju is made with herbs and honey. Iganggo soju is made with herbs, ginger, cinnamon and pear, with water added.
- Traditional soju is now rare, according to the Easy Korean Food website. Due to rice shortages from 1965 to 1999, the government prohibited traditional distillation using rice. As an alternative, a cheaper soju was made using highly distilled ethanol derived from sweet potatoes and tapioca added to water and mixed with sweetener and flavoring. The restriction has been lifted but the high cost of rice makes the beverage expensive.